My employer is trying to keep me on and I want to leave.
February 19, 2021 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Essentially, it's a small company and no one else right now is trained to fully handle my responsibilities. So they are offering a raise while I postpone leaving. However, I don't really feel like staying any longer than I legally have to or reneging on my agreement with my new employer.

I gave my 2 weeks notice on Friday the 12th saying my last day would be Friday the 26th. I have been looking for work for almost 4 months now and was finally offered a position, to which I said yes. I had already announced I would be taking a leave of absence later in the year for medical treatment. It's just now the timing is such that I'm now leaving in a week instead of almost 2 months. I had just started the process of training another person, but obviously 2 weeks is barely enough to cover the basics. And having to train them is causing further backups in a section that is already a substantial bottleneck in the company.

My reasons for quitting are a combination of a physical health issue (hence the medical leave, already delayed by COVID) and my needing to have a job that is tolerably miserable while I deal with lifelong issues with depression and social anxiety. Also, my current position involves working with volatile organic chemicals throughout the day and also noisy/dirty weekly maintenance tasks. They have acknowledged the existing ventilation system is not adequate and they are working on a improvements, but I really don't see it being fixed anytime soon. My new job is more straight forward and would only involve minimal exposure to some cleaning products. The slight raise doesn't hurt either.

My nature is to not cause conflict and I am the type of person who will almost immediately give in rather than argue. The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there. I just want a clean break and a fresh start. But I'm really second guessing myself right now. Maybe the devil I know is better than the devil I don't. However, the knowledge that I wasn't completely trapped forever has made the last few months much more bearable while I deal with my depressed mental health (exacerbated by the ongoing global pandemic) .

Ultimately, I just want to stand my ground in my decision; have some indication that I am making a rational decision with regards to my career while not being malicious or unprofessional under the circumstances. I thank-you for your responses.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (51 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
They are being unprofessional putting pressure on you to stay. It's the same as when a guy wheedles and wheedles and doesn't accept a no when he wants sex. You told them you were leaving. The fact that they are putting pressure on you to stay confirms that they are not a place where you should stay.

You are totally not being malicious and while SOMEONE is being unprofessional that person is not you.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:29 PM on February 19 [63 favorites]

Seconding that you should go. Yes, stand your ground. You'll thank yourself later.
posted by entropyiswinning at 9:31 PM on February 19 [9 favorites]

The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there.

This is not kindly anything. It's completely inappropriate of them.

You've given your notice. You're done.

Any employee can leave, immediately, at any time. It's the employer's responsibility to make sure that they always have enough staff, who understand all the tasks needed, to deal with that when it happens. If they fail to do that and depend on an individual employee who then leaves, the results are their problem. Not yours.
posted by automatronic at 9:32 PM on February 19 [101 favorites]

The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there.

They've offered to do what now? Employment cultures differ around the world, so I can't speak for how this would be received everywhere, but I'm not understanding how this call would go at all. You agreed to a job with New Employer; it's wildly inappropriate for your existing employer to have anything to do with that relationship or trying to cancel it. I'm trying to even imagine how anyone would react to a "hi I'm so-and-so's boss and they're going to stay here and work for me and not work for you" call, and it would be astonishingly bad.

It sounds like your existing job is making you miserable and may be hazardous to your physical health, while you have a new job that you think you'll like better and pays more (I am assuming you have the medical leave issue squared away in writing with your new employer already). You've given two weeks notice, as is customary. You want the new job and you said yourself that you don't want to stay any longer than you legally have to. Take the new job, like you want to do.

If your employer wanted to avert this outcome, they could have done so in several ways: paid you more to reflect the value you're providing them; ensured they have enough employees who are trained to cover your work; provided adequate ventilation when working with chemicals; given you a contract that would provide sufficient financial motivation to stay for a longer period of time; and so on. They did none of those things, and now that you're leaving, they're trying to guilt you into staying by making their problems into yours. But they're not your problems, and they did none of the things companies can do to prevent them from happening.

It clearly sounds like you know what you want to do: leave. There's nothing malicious or unprofessional about that. It is, however, highly unprofessional of them to argue with you about it or try to involve themselves in your relationship with your new employer.
posted by zachlipton at 9:45 PM on February 19 [41 favorites]


- If you haven't already revealed to your old employer who the new job is with, don't tell them.

- If you have, make it crystal clear to your old employer that they are not to contact the new employer, and that they are absolutely not authorised to "act on your behalf" in any way.

- If you think the old employer will call up the new employer, then I would be sending a note to the new employer saying that your old employer is threatening to sabotage your hiring with them, and to ignore any contact from them.

They are firmly into batshit fucking crazy territory here.
posted by automatronic at 9:52 PM on February 19 [73 favorites]

You sound super nice. Don't let your old company screw you over. I worry that them having any contact with your new company is SO weird that it might jepoardize your new job. (just nth-ing this). And, just a reminder that it's their fault no one was trained for this before now. I'm in a similar niche in some areas at work and if I got hit by a bus tomorrow my team would be scrambling, but until they hire more people I can train what can I do. You know? Same here. So don't feel bad about doing the common courtesy of 2 weeks and nothing more.
posted by clarinet at 10:11 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]

My nature is to not cause conflict and I am the type of person who will almost immediately give in rather than argue

You don’t have to argue. You already gave notice. You still want to leave. You have not invited them to speak to the other employer on your behalf (seriously, wtf?). This position does not work for you and you want to make a clean break. This is all you need to say. It’s not an argument, it’s not a negotiation, it’s a statement.

The ambiguity of the unknown is tough but you honestly do not know that the devil you know is better until you see what else is out there.
posted by sm1tten at 10:20 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]

You only have a relationship as an employee with a company as long as both parties -- you and the company -- want to continue the arrangement. Many aspects of the employer-employee relationship have a severe power imbalance but in this aspect - terminating the arrangement - you have a lot of power. If one party - you - wants to terminate that employment arrangement, then you terminate it. It's not like you have to "request" to terminate the agreement, and the company has to agree. It's unilateral! There are usually contractual obligations about conditions when one party can terminate the arrangement, like a minimum notice period. You have met those obligations by giving a two week notice period. Moreover, you have exceeded your minimum obligations in communicating to your manager that you would likely take a leave of absence, so they could start planning in advance of how they could cover their staffing problem.

You are under no moral or professional obligation to stay working at a job you no longer want.

> it's a small company
> no one else right now is trained to fully handle my responsibilities
> I had just started the process of training another person, but obviously 2 weeks is barely enough to cover the basics
> And having to train them is causing further backups in a section that is already a substantial bottleneck in the company

None of these are your problems. These are the company's problems. The company's current situation is a predictable and avoidable consequence of keeping your section under staffed. If the company did not want this section to be a bottleneck they would have invested more money to hire more staff months ago. But they didn't. The company management were making a gamble, either intentionally or out of incompetence, that they could keep their staff costs low by under staffing this section at the risk they could find themselves severely short staffed if any experienced staff were to get sick or quit or otherwise become unavailable.

Now the company management get to wear their consequences of taking that gamble, after enjoying the fruits of keeping staffing costs low. It is their responsibility to deal with the situation because it is their company and their problem, not yours.

> the knowledge that I wasn't completely trapped forever has made the last few months much more bearable

It is great to feel that you have _agency_ to improve your situation and change things to address parts of your life or work that are getting you down. And you do have that agency! You've taken action and lined up an offer for a better job.

Once you're out of the environment of your current job, and in your new work environment, it will be a incredibly easy to stop thinking about the old work place. Your brain will shift into new patterns of thinking instead of re-treading the old mental grooves from the old work environment. You only have to hold firm for one more week!
posted by are-coral-made at 10:27 PM on February 19 [14 favorites]

Lack of planning on their part is not an emergency on your part. You owe them nothing and if they fall to pieces without you then they are not running their business properly.

I am concerned that you have let them get this far with this conversation. You might consider leaving early, if you can afford losing a few days. Just to end the hassle.
posted by emjaybee at 10:29 PM on February 19 [14 favorites]

>> My nature is to not cause conflict and I am the type of person who will almost immediately give in rather than argue

> You don’t have to argue. You already gave notice. You still want to leave.

It's really worth reiterating this point: when you terminate your employment with an employer, it isn't a negotiation. You are not making a request, you've told them you have terminated the agreement. Both parties don't have to reach agreement. It doesn't matter what old employer thinks or wants. You have unilaterally terminated the employment arrangement, so it is done.
posted by are-coral-made at 10:31 PM on February 19 [18 favorites]

They suggested "negotiating" with your new employer on your behalf to bail on your agreement to start the new job? That's just... not normal
You do not need to negotiate in order to quit a job, or not start a job. Like you don't negotiate a breakup.
If you leave, they will have an incentive to increase staffing and cross-train people. If you stay they will treat you worse than now because you will have burned the bridge with the new company and they'll have no incentive to improve.
posted by M. at 11:18 PM on February 19 [12 favorites]

Look at it this way: They give you a raise to stay. You train new person. Niw, 4 weeks later, what prevents them from firing you then? Nothing. I bet they will too.

You made a decision to leave. The decision was made for really good reasons, mainly your mental and physical health.

Stick to your decision. Leave. They will fire you if you stick around as soon as they can. Then, you are out of two jobs.
posted by AugustWest at 11:39 PM on February 19 [6 favorites]

Congratulations on the new job and good luck. You're getting a raise and safer working environment, it sounds like a great move. You've done the professional thing by giving two weeks notice. Legally you almost certainly didn't even have to do that--it's a courtesy.

From your self description it's possible some of their weirdness is you being nice (as in, "I really want to stay longer but I told them I'd start March 1" or something). The thing is you don't want to stay. You don't need to be blunt or confrontational about why you're leaving, but you should be clear that you *are* leaving and on February 28, too. "I accepted another job, thank you for your support, but I'm moving on and I don't want to start by breaking the first commitment I made to them" is not a bad blame-free description.

They'll manage, and trust me: The stress you are causing them is super temporary. Think about a year from now; no one will be saying about the new person "They really suck, but if only they'd had two more weeks of training! It's all the fault of the last employee!"
posted by mark k at 11:57 PM on February 19 [7 favorites]

The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there.

I really really really hope you're using the word "kindly" there in a tone that drips with sarcasm.

If not, do.

That's such a bullshit move and is all the confirmation anyone should need that your present employer is a hopeless clown show that you're well shut of.
posted by flabdablet at 12:44 AM on February 20 [17 favorites]

The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there.

This is awful. Very occasionally organisations do become party to negotiations around a start date, but in my experience that's when the new org is trying to get a long notice period reduced (ie start earlier) and depends on both organisations having pre-existing non-competitive relationships.

Agree with everyone else, make yourself happy and just leave. They would let you go if they needed to, regardless of whether that suited you or not. If anything, there shenanigans would make me feel even more strongly that leaving was the right decision.
posted by plonkee at 1:15 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]

Offer to consult on the weekends (if you are able to) and/or answer emails within 24-48 hours (ditto), but you really have NO obligation to stay.
posted by kschang at 1:38 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]

Definitely do not offer to do consulting on weekends or answer email queries unless you're 100% certain you'd be happy to do that. Your main goal between now and the date you're due to leave your old job should be to completely divest yourself of any feelings of guilt towards your soon-to-be-former employer and concentrate entirely on doing what is best for you.

Seriously, you don't owe them anything, and their behaviour sounds sketchy as hell. Offering to negotiate with your new employer is a big red flag parade. Soon-to-be-old-job were paying you for your labour. Now you want to sell your labour to someone else. As other commenters have noted, the agreement between you and soon-to-be-former employer ends the moment you no longer want to sell your labour to them, regardless of how they've chosen to organise their business, whether they've bothered to cross-train or cover the skills and tasks you previously sold to them or not. None of that is your responsibility to manage, and any business that tries to make you feel as though that is your responsibility to manage is inherently shady.

I'd also suggest that the people who need to hear "old job is not authorised to negotiate on my behalf" is new job, not old job - old job has already demonstrated what they think of your boundaries by believing that offering to negotiate with new job on your behalf was in any universe a reasonable thing to suggest. A quiet word with new job that you've had weird vibes at old job since giving notice and to please disregard any contact from old job, as old job is not authorised to represent your interests, will probably do more to help you reputationally than insisting to old job that they're not allowed to talk to new job for you. You don't need to say anything to old job, just grey rock them and then walk out of the door on the day you've told them will be your last and don't come back the next day. Don't take calls or queries or offer to consult for them or in any other way bust your ass to help old job unless you absolutely want to (where "feeling guilty for leaving" is not the same as "wanting to").

Feeling guilty about leaving a job is so, so common. It's been covered repeatedly at Ask a Manager (examples 1, 2, 3, 4 just from the most cursory web search, I'm sure there are more in the archives), and the advice there is never "yeah, you're responsible for leaving your company in a good position when you leave and going along with whatever weird demands they're making" and always "leave, put on your own oxygen mask first, it's a business relationship and you owe them nothing from the moment you no longer wish to be in a business relationship with them as an employer".

I suspect some of this is a quirk of human behaviour. We're a social species, we depend and rely on one another, and in most social spheres, abruptly withdrawing support from a larger group would be perceived as a hostile move that could disrupt the group's ability to function. Naturally we carry over a lot of that behaviour into the workplace, which is also a social sphere, albeit one with wildly different ground rules from nearly every other social group. Of course we feel guilt when leaving a work community, because we're social animals who on some level have been conditioned not to behave in ways that jeopardise the success of the group.

The difference in business is that most businesses exist to generate wealth for a very small number of people, rather than improving the overall social or material standing of the entire group. It's not up to everyone to pitch in for the group's success, it's up to individuals to choose to lease their labour to the capitalists in charge, and up to those capitalists to ensure they've structured and resourced the group in ways that ensure it survives and thrives. So of course you feel guilty or like you might be doing something wrong for leaving, and of course your employer wants to tug on those socialisation strings to try to guilt you into staying, but because this group doesn't work according to the same rules as other social groups, your guilt is misplaced. The signals that in a normal non-capitalist group situation would be telling you that you're putting the group in danger aren't signals to pay attention to in capitalist group situations; they only increase the chances of you becoming increasingly complicit in your own exploitation by the capitalists in charge of the group.

Remember this on your last day, when you walk away from this job and never look back.
posted by terretu at 2:34 AM on February 20 [14 favorites]

You are not a slave. You decide who you work for and when you quit or start a job, no one speaks for you and no one owns your time. If it’s possible, I would down tools this minute, inform your boss this is your last day and you’re uncontactable from this point on. Tell them if they contact your future employer and jeopardise that job, you’ll contact a lawyer. Then follow through. This is beyond the pale. They do this because they’ve been allowed to. Put your foot down. Burn that bridge if you have to, god knows they have and they don’t care.
posted by Jubey at 4:27 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]

The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there.

I mean, it turns out everyone else has cut and pasted the exact same sentence I already had before I scrolled down to read the comments, but let me just add to the pile-on and say whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!!!!

This is so far beyond the bounds of normal that it makes me feel bad for you that you didn't just walk out the door the minute they said it. It also makes me wonder what other terrible things they've been doing to you, taking advantage of your conflict-avoidant nature, that you've started to normalise. Like giving you inadequate ventilation when working with volatile chemicals. Wowsers.

Leave, leave, leave, as quickly as you can, and don't look back.

Congratulations on your new job. You owe your old job nothing. All over the world, people are leaving jobs every single day, and society doesn't fall apart. Nor do companies, unless they were literally teetering on the absolute brink of collapse anyway. Changing jobs is a big deal for you because it's such a big change in your day-to-day life, but one employee leaving shouldn't be a big deal for a company. They just know it feels like a big deal to you and are using that knowledge to seriously abuse your good nature and steamroller you into doing what they want, not what you want.

posted by penguin pie at 5:51 AM on February 20 [8 favorites]

Oh, anon. I am so sorry your soon-to-be-former employer is putting you through this.

By your reaction, it sounds like you've been in a sick system for a while now. It does a number on your physical and mental health. But you can get out of it. Just one more week. You can do it!

I agree with people above that it might make sense to have a quiet word with the new company's HR or your new boss, if you can - nothing dramatic, just "As a heads up, if Old Company contacts you, please know that they do not represent my interests here and I haven't given them permission to speak on my behalf. I'm looking forward to starting at New Company on Start Date." Any normal HR or new boss will see that and be well able to read within the lines.

As for Old Company, I'd be tempted to say "Push this any further, and I will leave immediately." But I'd imagine that'd be very stressful for you given how long you've been trapped in this. I agree with the commenters above that looking up the gray rock technique might help if you're not already familiar with it. Bartleby the shit out of these guys. "That won't be possible." That's all they get. It's much more than they deserve.
posted by pie ninja at 6:12 AM on February 20 [4 favorites]

One thing that might help you to contextualise this - have you read about the bus factor?

It's used in project management to describe the number of employees who would have to go under a bus for operations to grind to a halt. A badly-run organisation has a bus factor of one - ie. the company is so badly structured, knowledge sharing so limited, people so silo'd, that if just one person went under a bus, they would take with them enough critical knowledge that it would be impossible/difficult to continue the project. Ideally, the bus factor should be higher - people should be able to cover for one another in times of absence, or in the entirely predictable instance of someone leaving to go to another job.

It sounds like your company has a bus factor of one, but that's not an issue for you to solve, it's for the company management. To be honest, it sounds like a more likely scenario is that they're just trying to make you believe they have a bus factor of one, to pressure you to say.

But it's their problem to solve as an organisation, not yours as an individual.
posted by penguin pie at 6:23 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]

Just want to add a reminder that they may be making things super uncomfortable right now... but if you can stand your ground through one more tough week your relationship with your current employer will be over. You are almost done with them! One week!
posted by Viola Swamp at 6:38 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]

Do not take the counter offer. They are only paying you more to train their replacement. Unless your counter offer includes chopping off some management heads and taking their salary as part of the counter offer, your company culture and wage suppression on your job position will continue. Your present and soon-to-be former employer has discovered that they were paying you less than you were worth. They should have been proactive in paying your salary appropriately. It's not your fault if the business wanted to pay management and owner salaries before they paid employee salaries appropriately.
posted by DetriusXii at 7:15 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]

My nature is to not cause conflict and I am the type of person who will almost immediately give in rather than argue.

Think of it this way, if it helps: sticking with your plan is actually the path of least resistance. All you have to do is nothing. If you stop going there, you don't work there anymore.

Don't argue or explain. You don't have to convince them to let you go. It's already happening.

The last few days of any job are always weird as hell. Trust me, that fades into a feeling a freedom almost immediately. You'll get through it. Congratulations on the new gig!
posted by lampoil at 7:17 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]

Offer to consult on the weekends (if you are able to)

I really wouldn’t recommend it but, if you do offer this, make it clear to them that your hourly rate is double what it currently is and then double again for it being a weekend. Payable upfront.
posted by mr_silver at 7:20 AM on February 20 [15 favorites]

So yeah, this question is heartbreaking in terms of how much you’re willing to do for someone who has no respect whatsoever for you. What makes it infuriating is that they’re not just fucking you; they’re fucking your new job too.

Try this: in the interest of “being helpful”, reach out to the person who’s replacing you and “negotiate” with them to not start at your current job for two months. Your employer wouldn’t actually find that helpful, would they? They’re planning for the new person to start and go through training before you leave.

Well, the new job has plans like that too. Companies don’t just hire new people because they like them. The new place hired you because they have a need for someone. They might be in the same situation where an old employee is moving on but staying long enough to train you. They don’t operate on your current employer’s timeline. By the time your current employer is ready to let you go, the new place’s need for you will have passed. You lose, new place loses.

This is one of the most unprofessional things I’ve ever heard. I really hope you get out ASAP and after you do, I hope you publicize this lack of professionalism. Put this on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc.

I admire that you don’t like conflict. But the problem here is that the conflict already exists. They caused the conflict. You can’t avoid it - you have to choose whether you’re going to hurt the current job or the new job. My vote is to hurt the one who’s trying their absolute hardest to hurt you.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:27 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]

And just a nod to the understanding that you are *clearly* a good employee and are heading to greener pastures. Do that. If you stay, there will be the additional emotional churn from all of the weirdness and insufficient action that resulted in your near-departure. You don’t need that baggage. Your current employer needs to sort out a two week transition and, frankly, given previous ineffective results, they are likely perpetuating those results. Don’t get roped in by staying. You are following a healthy urge to leave. The new place is looking forward to you coming in board, follow that beacon.
posted by childofTethys at 7:31 AM on February 20

Notice periods are not a law of the universe, they are a courtesy extended to the outgoing employer in order to maintain a good relationship. Their behavior is extremely beyond the pale here and there is nothing to maintain-- I think you should feel no compunction whatsoever in telling them you are done effective immediately and enjoying a few days to refresh before you enter, hopefully, a much less abusive situation.
posted by dusty potato at 8:34 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]

I did a thing like you describe; I ended up working "50%" at both places "until they found a replacement". It went very poorly--for me, that is. Everyone got more work than they paid for, and the former management team did not make a single forward move to hire someone to replace me until I broke down and fully quit, so from their perspective it was probably a net win. I don't necessarily harbor ill will towards them, because expecting someone to change is usually fruitless. But I would not choose anything but a clean break if I had it to do over again. Your reasons for leaving are absolutely valid.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:50 AM on February 20 [8 favorites]

Common wisdom is never accept a counteroffer. There are probably exceptions, but it's the rule for lots of reasons you can read about in the search result.

And most of those don't even cover "my current position involves working with volatile organic chemicals throughout the day and also noisy/dirty weekly maintenance tasks. [Employer] acknowledged the existing ventilation system is not adequate."
posted by wildblueyonder at 9:01 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]

You can leave a job for any reason- or no reason at all.
So don’t feel you have to justify why you are not staying.
You gave notice, you are willing to train as time allows, you are not screwing them over.

Managers are responsible for the overall workflow and staffing. Whether it is COVID, a hurricane, or a labor crisis, it is their responsibility NOT yours.
Pay attention to your upcoming employment- get yourself ready for your first day.
posted by calgirl at 9:03 AM on February 20

Do you need more validation that you should leave on your originally planned departure date? Because you absolutely should leave on your originally planned departure date. A company that thinks it's okay to "negotiate" with your new company so that you lose your opportunity with that new company is just so far over the line, the mind truly boggles. I am angry on your behalf. Even if they hadn't made that "offer" and were just pushing you to stay they would still be in the wrong.

All of the reasons you list are excellent ones to move on, but even if your only reason for moving on was that you felt like it, that would still be perfectly okay. As others above note, they will get along without you, and if that's somehow not the case then that truly is their fault and not something you owe it to them to fix.

Your current company is not acting in your best interests. Please be sure that you are.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:04 AM on February 20 [2 favorites]

Also, when you have the time and space to do so, it might be worth investigating why you're conflating "niceness" with "giving in and going along with whatever benefits the one making demands of you." They really, really are not the same thing (heck, think of Mister Rogers standing up for PBS before the US Senate. He's the most canonically nice person I can think of, and I really can't imagine him just going along with what others wanted if that wasn't in his, his family's, or his viewers' best interests, can you?).

Please be genuinely nice and kind to yourself by moving on from this job you know is not right for you. You are worth it.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:14 AM on February 20 [6 favorites]

At one former job, when I gave notice -- a more than adequate notice in the US, at 3.5 weeks -- my boss literally swore in front of me. It felt awful at the time, a cringey terrible feeling, so I understand where you are coming from. But looking back, my only regret is that I served out my notice period. Her making her disappointment my problem was deeply inappropriate and unprofessional, and it would have justified my quitting on the spot, or at the very least leveling the threat that if she could not keep it together, I would do so -- and your employer's reaction is at least as inappropriate as hers was.

tl;dr do not change your plans for these people.
posted by eirias at 9:21 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure where you are, but here in the US, an employer can fire you at any time. They don't have to have a reason. They can just say, "It's Wednesday, and I feel like firing anon. Hey anon, turn in your badge and go."

You also have the right to end the business relationship at any time. You have provided them the courtesy of a two-week notice, which is the professional thing to do. What happens after that time is not your problem.

I can identify with the feeling of not wanting to disappoint anyone. But if the only way to do that is to stay in a situation that you know is making you sick, that is not fair to you. You are not required to make yourself sick for someone else's convenience. They will get along without you somehow. Maybe they'll put some effort into cross-training and improving the work environment. Your departure might be the kick in the butt they need to make things better.
posted by tuesdayschild at 9:47 AM on February 20

Listen: You don’t owe your employer any notice at all. Notice is a courtesy. You literally could drop off a memo resigning your position at the end of the day, walk out with your personal stuff and never look back. The same thing works the other way, though, and don’t think for a minute that you’d get plenty of notice if your employer decided to terminate you or eliminate your employment. You’d be called to HR, told you were being let go effective immediately and escorted out of the building. If you were lucky you might get to pack up your own personal items instead of having them shipped to you, and if you were really lucky you might get some kind of severance package. Generally speaking the more the employee earns the nicer an employer is about letting them go.

The point of all this is that, if your employer could/would let you go with no notice, you are under no obligation to do more than you already are doing by giving notice, and you certainly are under no obligation to extend your notice and/or train a replacement. Also, fuck no to remaining at the old job either short- or long- term because of an offered raise. If you were that important to them, they should have been paying you that much all along. Needless to say, double fuck no to sticking around out of some misplaced sense of obligation. Your employers will almost always act in their own best interests regarding your employment, and so should you almost always act in your own best interests regarding your employment.

Just tell your current employer that you’re already committed to your start date and that they may not contact your future employer regarding your new job. I’d advise you to put this in writing (best would be an email that copies your home account). If your current employer badgers you about it, you can always say that you’d be happy for today to be your last day if this is going to be how things are going to be (assuming you could afford that).
posted by slkinsey at 9:55 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]

I would like to suggest that if, once you gave your customary two weeks notice, they started to apply pressure for you to stay? Then THAT is a good reason to cut the two weeks short and stop going in. Two weeks is a courtesy. Most places wouldn't give you two weeks if they were gonna fire you. If they want to use the two weeks laying a guilt trip on you, they are meeting courtesy with open selfishness, and the courtesy should be withdrawn.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:54 AM on February 20 [5 favorites]

This is not your family, this is business. Their business is cranking out widgets or whatever they do. Your business is paying your bills while maintaining a good life. You need to worry about your business before you worry about theirs.

I don’t know this particular company, but I don’t know of any company that would fire someone, but then let them stay on until they found a new job they liked. This is what’s essentially going on here - you’re firing them, and they’re asking to be allowed to stay on until they find a new person they like. Fuck that shit.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:02 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

The company has kindly offered to contact my new employer so they can negotiate on my behalf my not taking a job there.

This is the point at which I would simply not return to the previous employer, ever.
posted by WaywardPlane at 12:03 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

I literally LOLed when I got to the part about them offering to contact your new employer. Seriously, WTF??? That is not normal business behaviour.

Your current bosses have screwed themselves and it is really not your problem. People like that will not treat you any better, nor will they address the safety and other issues if you give in to them. In fact, it is likely to get worse if you back down.

Get out of there as soon as you can and don't look back. In fact, in your shoes, I'd be sorely tempted to leave earlier if I could afford it.
posted by rpfields at 2:01 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

I highly recommend that you not go into work on you next scheduled day, and not after that.
posted by ovvl at 4:09 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

anon, I am also a person who struggles with depression and social anxiety. And I am here to tell you not to listen to the voice that is telling you to stay in this job.

This is the voice of what the excellent Captain Awkward calls the "jerkbrain":
When your brain acts against your best interests, possibly due to chemical reasons or social conditioning that is hard to break.
If you'd listened to your jerkbrain when you were exploring professional alternatives, you wouldn't have taken the significant and healthy step forward of applying to, interviewing for, and finding a new job. In much better working conditions. With a raise.

Write down (using pen/pencil and paper*) the pros and cons of staying where you are now, and the pros and cons of taking the awesome new job that you have taken the initiative to get. If you have any doubts about what you are doing, look over what you have written down about your current job, such as "working with volatile organic chemicals throughout the day" and "noisy/dirty weekly maintenance tasks."

That is the ongoing reality of your job. This is what you live with every day. Throughout your time there, your employer has had the opportunity to make things better -- to provide a good ventilation system and to give you a raise -- but they didn't.

"The knowledge that I wasn't completely trapped forever has made the last few months much more bearable."

Imagine how good it will feel when you leave on your last day!

In the meantime, start detaching yourself from the job you're leaving. Imagine that you're all in a game of "Guilt Trip Bingo," and mentally award your supervisors points when they say things like "You know you're leaving us at a really bad time" and "Where did you say you were going again?" and "I'm not sure if (the person you're training) is going to be up to speed by the time you go."

This new job didn't just fall into your lap. It's an opportunity that you sought out and that you deserve. I wish you the best.

* You've had a lot on your mind, and the act of physically writing things down can help us -- or at least me -- remember them.
posted by virago at 4:17 PM on February 20

My nature is to not cause conflict and I am the type of person who will almost immediately give in rather than argue.

Your current employer knows this and is taking advantage of it. They aren't interested in your future or your well-being. You shouldn't be interested in theirs either. Go enjoy your new, better job.
posted by Mavri at 7:03 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

You are under no obligation to stay. The only reason I would want to stay in your situation would be to help with any negative impacts on coworkers you may have a personal relationship. But as for the company itself, they should be on their own. It sounds like you are priority zero for them and have been for a while. Assuming you have a boss at the old job and not reporting to the owner or something, if they had the competency to manage you they should have the competency to learn your job in less than 2 weeks. Then they should train your replacement.

Take the new job. If you feel up to it, offer the old company to consult in additional training of your replacement outside the working hours of your new company. But only on your terms. Don’t be a jerk about your pay, but since it is essentially overtime on your part on top of your regular job, I would thing that time and a half or double time of your current pay should be the minimum you accept, and only for the hours you feel comfortable with. It will give you a little extra income to buffer the time you will be taking off for medical leave.

As for your current employer, I would almost guarantee the training you would provide will be much more efficient of trainee is thrown into the fire and only has a few hours each day to ask you questions. I would think tho could even be done on a video call.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone at 9:32 PM on February 20

Leave and don't look back. Be polite, professional, but don't give them one extra minute of your time or worry.

And if you are in the US, maybe consider a call to OSHA on your way out the door about that ventilation system.
posted by beandip at 11:24 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

With apologies for commenting twice in the same discussion, I'm going to gently push back against the idea that you should do any contract work for your current employer once you've walked out that door for the last time.

You said it yourself: "I just want a clean break and a fresh start." New jobs call for a lot of energy and focus, and you won't be able to give 100% of yourself to NewJob if you're thinking about what you have to do for OldJob at night or on the weekend. It takes time to adjust to a new workplace setting after years in another place -- I was anxious after switching from a 4-midnight shift to a job in the same department that required a 9-5 schedule.

You're also dealing with real health issues that won't improve and may even get worse if you don't allow yourself the downtime to heal.

Your current employer may try to minimize what they're asking of you by referring to the commitment as "a few hours of work here and there." But it doesn't take much time before you're up to half a workday's worth of tasks for your former employer, as Ask a Manager's Alison Green pointed out to someone in a similar predicament a few years ago. The person asking for advice said in her letter, "I would like to make a clean break soon ... I don't need the stress for much longer." You are not alone.

Spoiler alert: The employee who was leaving had to say "no" to contract work by email because her soon-to-be-ex-boss kept pestering her in person. But the former employee is happy with her new job. She's friends with Ex-Boss again after a brief period of tension (because nudging); She's gone to lunch with her replacement and answered a few questions.

The last line of the update is the mic drop: "My old boss even hired another person for the department, which I am not sure would have happened if I had stayed."
posted by virago at 1:18 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

The end of virago's comment does hint at another possibility for what's going on in OP's case - possibly your current employers know that either:

* They're paying you way below the odds for what you do, or
* You're currently doing the work of two people for the price of one.

Although I'm sure you do a great job, it may not be that you're as irreplaceable as they're making out - just that they know it'll cost them more to replace you than they're currently getting away with paying you.
posted by penguin pie at 2:34 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

I'll nth what everyone has been saying (especially the gobsmacked incredulity of your old employer offering to "negotiate" with your new employer).

As to doing contract work in your spare time: I'm not going to argue one way or the other for this because it can work out for some people, but if you choose to do it, remember that you have the upper hand. Don't be shy about asking for a lot of money. That Ask a Manager column suggests 2x your existing hourly rate. In your situation, I think that's very modest.

Congratulations on the new job, and don't let your old employer delay your departure by one minute.
posted by adamrice at 8:18 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]

Mod note: This is an anonymous comment from the OP

Thank-you for all your replies. It was nice knowing my perception of the situation was not unreasonable. However I am sorry to say I have wasted your time. I had a meeting in which I needed to give my final decision at the end of Friday the 19th and this question wasn't posted until after that in my timezone that day. But ultimately I think the end result would probably have been the same, regardless of any advice.

I agreed to renege on my agreement with the new company and not resume my job search for the next 6 months or until a suitable replacement is hired or trained (whichever is sooner). My leaving would have punished my co-workers more than management. Especially the person who would take on my job with inadequate training. So my guilt over doing that is what forced my hand.

Anyway, I live in Canada with a stable housing situation and many other privileges. I have survived worse things and I know I can get through this. That fact that they are being the [ stupid, mean, or contemptible people] in this situation shall be enough to fill my heart in the meantime.
posted by travelingthyme (staff) at 8:45 AM on February 27

I don't care what you told them or what kind of contract you signed, do no, in any way shape or form abide by it. Start searching for a new job TODAY and be serious about it. Go back to the company that initially offered you the job and say that you still want to work for them and see if they'll give you the offer again. You need to get the hell out of that place ASAP. They're toying with you and your life. They don't give a single solitary hoot about you and the same can be said for the co-worker you feel so guilty about leaving.

Look, I get it. It's hard to leave when there is somebody else who is going to have to shoulder the burden and when you're a decent, responsible caring human being. I fully understand where you are coming from, but you're sacrificing yourself for an organization that doesn't even care about the health and safety of its employees. If it cared about it staff, it would have training and programs already in place. It would take succession planning seriously. It doesn't.

I hate to be a pessimist, but who knows what the job market is going to be like in six months (or whenever the new person is trained)? Maybe you won't be able to find a job then. Maybe it will take you six months or a year to find suitable employment. Who is going to take care of you then? The company that no longer employs you and doesn't need you (because you trained your replacement)? Your former co-worker who is now doing your job? You know what the answer is: a big fat NOBODY! You're going to be on your own. Nobody is going to be looking out for you, so that means you have to be the person looking out for YOUR OWN BEST INTEREST.

Forgive me if I'm making a bad assumption, but reading your question and your response, I get the impression that you're either young or not very experienced in the job market. There's nothing wrong with that. We've all been there. We've all made similar mistakes. I'll tell you right now that one of my biggest professional regrets is feeling like I owed something to my coworkers and my first professional employer and because of that turning down the most fabulous job offer because they needed me right away (after leaving me hanging for a month). I felt I owed it to the place I was working to give the standard two weeks' notice, so I turned down what was probably a dream job and the best opportunity that has ever (or will ever) come my way. It could have been a career-making move that would have set my life on an entirely different (and much better) course. Boy, did I learn my lesson the hard way when I found out how badly my company was cheating me (and all the other women working in my department) and how little they thought of me or stood up for me. Don't be me. Please don't make the kind of mistake I made. Stand up for yourself. Do something good for yourself. Restart that job search, take it seriously, and when you get the offer, run, don't walk and snatch if up. (And if they forced you to sign a contract, take it to a lawyer. They placed you under duress. They didn't play fair with you, it's perfectly fine to throw a bit of legal power at them for treating you like they did.)
posted by sardonyx at 8:46 PM on February 28 [4 favorites]

I agreed to renege on my agreement with the new company

If you have not yet actually notified the new company of this decision then I'm advising you in the strongest possible terms to renege on the renege and run, not walk, away from your horribly exploitative sick system of a present employer without a backward glance. Even if it means leaving all your personal stuff sitting in your workspace there. Just go. Stuff can be replaced.

Any outfit that would put you or any other employee in a bind like this is owed the opposite of loyalty.

Yes, your co-workers will suffer to some extent as a consequence of this decision, but the responsibility for that is not on you. It's on your employer, and the only conceivable reason why any of your present co-workers could possibly think badly of you for walking away is that they, too, have been brainwashed the very same way you have. The worst thing that could happen to any of your co-workers is that they feel a bit useless until they get up to speed. The worst that could happen to you is total burnout and meltdown. Don't risk a terrible outcome for yourself to save a mildly unpleasant one for co-workers. It's just not worth it.

You're being taken for a ride here. Jump off now. If you don't, then six months down the line they're going to do the same thing to you, if not worse.

posted by flabdablet at 3:10 AM on March 1 [8 favorites]

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